Thursday, 2 October 2008

Pluralism and free speech

Pluralism and free speech

Now I need to get this clear in my mind. There’s this woman Marianne MIKKO who is an MEP for Estonia , and is Chairwoman of the delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. She is also a member of the Conference of Delegation Chairmen, and the Committee on Fisheries as well as the Committee on culture and education. Marianne wrote a report User-generated content and weblogs - a new challenge about Pluralism . In a web blog (Pot-kettle?)

She has this friend Katarina Batseli, who is the Chair of the EU Parliament’s Culture Committee.

Marianne apparently went to see her friend Katarina and persuaded her to adopt this report, which include statements such as-

“Weblogs and other new on-line media pose new challenges, say MEPs. The growth of commercial media outlets for user-generated content, such as photos and videos, used without paying a fee, raises problems of ethics and privacy, and puts journalists and other media professionals under pressure, they say”.

“Ms Mikko told us "the blogosphere has so far been a haven of good intentions and relatively honest dealing. However, with blogs becoming commonplace, less principled people will want to use them". What like politicians?

“Asked if she considered bloggers to be "a threat", she said "we do not see bloggers as a threat. They are in position, however, to considerably pollute cyberspace. We already have too much spam, misinformation and malicious intent in cyberspace". She added, "I think the public is still very trusting towards blogs, it is still seen as sincere. And it should remain sincere. For that we need a quality mark, a disclosure of who is really writing and why. "

So what she wants is that no one except people like her and cohorts should be able to express their views?

There are many types of pluralism (hence the name), which one is she talking about? Because “ Media Pluralism” isn’t in the dictionary.

“The UK regional newspaper industry considers that
Government support and subsidy would compromise press freedom.
The European Commission does not have legal competence to regulate newspaper content and the UK newspaper industry is wholly opposed to any special statutory codes governing the content of print and online newspapers. Ownership consolidation does not compromise editorial independence nor lead to any loss of a range of content, news, information, voice, views, comment, opinions, debate, forum and interaction at local level. Media pluralism, however widely defined, is a matter for Member States and there are no grounds for European Union action.”

It seems even the “Media” are against this action.

Many bloggers have to remain anonymous, because it has been shown that professionals that reveal their identities are subject to disciplinary action if they express their thoughts, see the newspapers.

This is known as democracy, and free speech which I believe is rooted in the foundations of democracy.

However Belgian MEP Ivo Belet who said- “weblogs and user generated content contribute in a lively and fresh way to a colourful and many-sided media landscape. They should not be restrained". The centre right EPP-ED member did concede however that some legal issues such as privacy and the right of reply need to be addressed.” Doesn’t seem to agree.

So, Mariannes problem seems to be that Journalists and other media professionals, may be “put under pressure”, and that copyrite may be breached.

Is she after a job on TV?

Then this guy- “German Liberal Dr. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis MEP acted as advisor for the Economic and Monetary committee. He told us that "bloggers cannot automatically be considered a threat, but imagine pressure groups, professional interests or any other groups using blogs to pass on their message. Blogs are powerful tools, they can represent an advance form of lobbyism, which in turn can be seen as a threat". He said "any blogger representing or expressing more than their personal view should be affected by this report." Puts his oar in.

So he is saying that “lobbyism” is a threat, isn’t approaching your “friend” and persuading her to accept your report “lobbyism”, isn’t the parliamentary system based on “lobbyism” in order to persuade the members of your own party to “toe the party line”?

That is the idea of free speech, it enables the “Common People” to express their views and put different points of view to that of the so called “experts”, if “pressure groups” and “professional interests” wish to post blogs, that is their perogative. But it doesn’t mean that “we” will believe them or take action on their views.

The “blogosphere” is a haven of free speech and democracy; it should not be regulated in the way these politicians want, because regulation like this is an attack on “our” rights to express our opinion.

So Ms Mikko, please go back to the fisheries and Moldova, and leave the “real world” to those that actually live in it.

Angus Dei

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